Our goal with blocking off Saturday mornings, from 10am-12 to serve our community in practical ways, has never been to give people at our church a 2 hour timeframe, once a week, to share Christ and serve our community so they may see this as the fulfillment of them being outwardly focused. Our goal has always been, and must be, that our outreaches become apart of our church’s DNA as believers in their everyday life, sharing Christ in whatever domain God puts them in. We don’t want to add a program, but we want to change the culture of our church from being inwardly focused to being outwardly focused and searching for people to show Christ’s love to. Serving on Saturdays has been very effective in coming along side individuals within our church and their personal evangelism. Here are 3 ways that our Church wide outreaches have helped individuals within our church succeed in evangelism:
1. Church wide outreaches embolden and spur on individual believers to share Christ in their domains.
To truly reach a community, we have to have believers forming relationships, doing life, and sharing Christ with those God has put around them. This happens easiest wherever it is that you spend the bulk of your time. This includes workplaces, schools, sporting events, neighborhoods, etc.
What we are seeing is that people who are very introverted or inwardly focused are becoming learned extroverts and outwardly focused when they frequent our church wide outreaches. We are very clear to our church that we want them to use the tools they learn at our church wide outreaches and apply them to their personal lives reaching out in whatever domain God has put them in.
Lately i have been going up to people within our church and asking them this question, “Has serving our community for an hour and a half on saturdays, helped you reach out to those in your domain?”
The answer is always an astounding and emphatic YES!!!
One girl named Danielle told me that she used to be very scared and nervous to reach out to those around her; however, after frequenting our outreaches she feels bold and confident about sharing her faith and serving others in her personal life, and has done so quite often. A mom recently told me that her son, who was very inwardly focused, is now sharing Christ with people God has put around him at his school.
A majority of the Church can be characterized as being introverts or just not being outwardly focused in their personal lives. When we set up a fun, safe, effective place for our people to serve others and grow into stepping out of their comfort zone, they will ultimately become effective and bold in reaching others in their personal domains.
2. Church wide outreaches provide context for other believers to share Christ with those we have served.
Many people within their domains truly want to serve and share Christ with those they are surrounded by. We have observed that when our church serves businesses, schools, etc. in a practical way just to share Christ’s love with no strings attached, it has helped come along side believers within those domains looking for opportunities and context to share Christ.
A man named Jason told me that he had been wanting to reach out to his co-workers for years, but just couldn’t find the right time. Then one day our church brought in a couple of free boxes of donuts and told the business that the donuts are just a free gift from us, and we just wanted to share Christ’s love in a practical way. Jason said that while the employees enjoyed the donuts, spiritual convos starting popping up due to the mystery of why we would serve them for free in this way. Jason got to start sharing Christ with his co-workers that day and told us that he sees the importance of what we are doing, even if it was just for the reason of adding context for other believers to be outwardly focused in their domains.
About a year ago i received a message from the manager at our local JC Penny store thanking our church for serving their business in practical ways. She told me that she has been able to share Christ with her employees ever since we started bringing free donuts to JC Penny’s on a frequent basis.
3. God uses Church wide outreaches to create divine appointments to come along side individuals as they share Christ.
Some people like to describe what we do as “random acts of kindness” I disagree with that definition. We not only are strategic with where we send our outreach teams, it has become apparent through powerful testimonies that God has a direct purpose for everyone we serve…and that is not random. We call these divine appointments.
What we are learning is that when our church reaches out as individuals, those they are trying to reach out to, if already served and loved on by on a church wide outreach, are more open to hearing about the love of God, and the saving Grace of Jesus. This story illustrates this perfectly:
A lady in our church named Shannon started coming to our church wide outreaches on a few saturdays. After serving at our outreaches, Shannon felt like the Lord was calling her to be outwardly focused in her personal life. Shannon had a neighbor that she had not talked to very much and wanted to reach out to her. Shannon invited her over to watch the Super Bowl with their family. One conversation led to another and somehow they got on the subject of God and church. Shannon’s husband Jim asked their neighbor if she went to church anywhere, and she said that she was a former catholic and does not go to church anywhere, BUT was wanting to check out this “Awesome” church named Greenwood that payed for her laundry, just to show her that God’s love is free with no strings attached. Jim and Shannon were able to share with her that the church she was talking about was actually where they were members! The lady visited our church and recommitted her life to Christ the first week she came.
When a church decides to be outwardly focused as individuals and corporately, God empowers and blesses their efforts. To share Christ as individuals is great. To share Christ as a church is great. To do both is something that is extraordinary, and something that works together to truly reach a community for Christ.